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Oklahoma man exonerated from death row

Posted: May 11, 2007

Innocence Project client Curtis McCarty was freed this morning after more than 21 years of wrongful incarceration – including 16 on death row – when a judge dismissed the charges that would have led to his third trial for a 1982 murder. McCarty had been convicted twice but both convictions had been thrown out by appeals courts. DNA testing has now shown that semen and hairs recovered from the crime scene do not match McCarty.

McCarty was released this morning after judge Twyla Mason Gray dismissed his indictment, saying the misconduct committed in McCarty’s case was inexcusable. District Attorney Robert H. Macy and lab analyst Joyce Gilchrist both committed serious and repeated misconduct to secure McCarty’s conviction. Gilchrist was fired in 2001 due to fraud she committed in McCarty’s case and others; she was involved in at least two other convictions later overturned by DNA testing.

"I want to know, where is Joyce Gilchrist and why isn’t she in prison?" Gray said at this morning’s hearing, according to the Oklahoma Gazette.

Macy, who was the Oklahoma County District Attorney for 21 years, prosecuted McCarty in both of his trials. Macy sent 73 people to death row – more than any other prosecutor in the nation – and 20 of them have been executed. Macy has said publicly that he believes executing an innocent person is a sacrifice worth making in order to keep the death penalty in the United States.

"This is by far one of the worst cases of law enforcement misconduct in the history of the American criminal justice system," said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. "Bob Macy has said that executing an innocent person is a risk worth taking – and he came very close to doing just that with Curtis McCarty."

McCarty is the 201st person exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States and the ninth in Oklahoma. Fifteen of the 201 exonerees spent time on death row.

Read the full Innocence Project press release here.



Tags: Oklahoma, Curtis McCarty, Government Misconduct

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News coverage of today’s exoneration

Posted: May 11, 2007

 

Inmate Freed After 22-Year-Old Murder Charge Dropped – KOCO, Channel 5

Inmate to be freed after murder charge dropped, News 9, Oklahoma City

Associated Press National: Former Okla. death row inmate to go free



Tags: Oklahoma, Curtis McCarty

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Oklahoma man exonerated – more media coverage

Posted: May 14, 2007

After 21 years behind bars – including 16 on death row – Curtis McCarty was freed on Friday when an Oklahoma City judge dismissed charges that would have led to his third trial for a 1982 murder he didn’t commit. DNA testing in recent years has proven that someone else committed the crime.

Read more about McCarty’s case in the Innocence Project press release, and view media coverage of the exoneration below.

Los Angeles Times: Judge frees oklahoma man facing execution

Oklahoma Gazette: Judge releases McCarty; rips former chemist

The Oklahoman / News 9: Ex-death row inmate freed (with video)



Tags: Oklahoma, Curtis McCarty, Government Misconduct

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The Innocent Man near top of bestseller list

Posted: January 8, 2008 4:10 pm

John Grisham’s book about the injustice suffered by Oklahoma exonerees Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz, “The Innocent Man,” was released in paperback six weeks ago. For those six weeks, the book has hovered near the top of the New York Times best-seller list, this week at #2. The book has reached countless readers and helped to raise awareness of the problem of wrongful convictions.

Have a comment or reaction to “The Innocent Man”? Send us an email and we’ll publish your responses here on the Innocence Blog.

Want to buy the book? Use this link and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Innocence Project.





Tags: Oklahoma, Dennis Fritz, Ron Williamson

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Video: Death row exoneree Curtis McCarty speaks in Nebraska

Posted: February 26, 2008 2:08 pm

Curtis McCarty, who spent 18 years on Oklahoma’s death row for a murder he didn’t commit, spoke over the weekend in Nebraska about his experiences.

“I am free physically, but mentally I am not. I am always there and I am always with the men I left behind and the men who died there, men whom I am certain are innocent," McCarty said.

Watch the video here.




Tags: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Curtis McCarty, Death Penalty

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Oklahoma Man Exonerated by DNA Testing

Posted: July 19, 2012 5:15 pm

An Oklahoma man who served 16 years for a 1995 burglary and robbery he did not commit was exonerated today by DNA testing.
 
With the consent of the Tulsa District Attorney’s Office, District Court Judge William C. Kellough overturned Sedrick Courtney’s conviction after DNA testing excluded him as the source of hairs that were recovered from ski masks worn by the two perpetrators who committed the crime.
 
After Courtney’s lawyers were repeatedly told by the Tulsa Police Department that the crime scene evidence was destroyed, the Innocence Project was finally able to locate the evidence in 2011 and conducted testing that definitively excludes Courtney as the source of the hairs found on the ski masks.
 
Barry Scheck, Co-director of the Innocence Project and a member of Courtney’s legal team said:


"We are grateful for District Attorney Tim Harris' help in quickly bringing an end to the terrible injustice faced by Mr. Courtney," said Scheck. “Mr. Courtney was able to get the DNA testing that has cleared his name. Undoubtedly there are many others who have not been so fortunate because Oklahoma has the unfortunate distinction of being the only state in the nation that doesn't have a DNA testing law. Hopefully this horrible miscarriage of justice will spur state lawmakers to do the right thing and make it easier for those who have been wrongly convicted to get access to the DNA testing that can clear their names.”

Courtney was paroled in 2011 and joined in court today by family members and other exonerees who have been cleared by DNA testing.
 
Read today’s press release.
 
Send a message of congratulations to Sedrick Courtney.
 
Read more about access to post-conviction DNA testing.



Tags: Oklahoma, Sedrick Courtney

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To Thank You for Your Letters of Support

Posted: August 6, 2012 11:50 am

I’m writing to thank the 535 Innocence Project supporters who wrote me letters after my DNA exoneration on July 19. I’m thankful for all the support. If I could, I would shake each hand and hug everybody. I appreciate it sincerely.
 
I spent 16 years in prison for a Tulsa burglary that I did not commit. I came home on June 6, 2011, on parole, but being exonerated feels different. I’m still working every day, but now I don’t have to check in and get permission from a DOC officer. If I want to leave the state or the country, I can. I’m free now. I live with my wife and our two-year-old son. He’s a blessing. But he won’t let me just sit there and read; he has to be in my lap. So I’ve been reading the letters after he goes to sleep.
 
They’re from all over the world and they say congratulations, welcome home, and we’re sorry that you had to go through what you went through. They say “tears of joy for you.” I had a few invitations from people in the state or in my town saying I would love to meet you. Some of the people who wrote to me told me stories of their loved ones that had been to prison and had to go through the same thing. Thanks to your letters and the Innocence Project’s support, I know I’m not alone. I’m truly blessed.
 
Sincerely,
Sedrick Courtney



Tags: Oklahoma, Sedrick Courtney

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Innocence Network Week in Review: December 14, 2012

Posted: December 14, 2012 4:40 pm





Tags: North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Innocence Network

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Oklahoma Poised to Adopt DNA Access Bill

Posted: February 21, 2013 1:05 pm





Tags: Oklahoma, Access to DNA Testing

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Oklahoma Justice Commission Recommends Reforms to Prevent Wrongful Convictions

Posted: March 4, 2013 4:40 pm





Tags: Oklahoma, Access to DNA Testing

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Tulsa World Says Oklahoma DNA Bill Should Pass Unanimously

Posted: April 10, 2013 6:00 pm





Tags: Oklahoma, Access to DNA Testing

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With Passage of Oklahoma Bill, DNA Testing Guaranteed in All 50 States

Posted: May 28, 2013 3:30 pm





Tags: Oklahoma, Access to DNA Testing

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Independence Day Cheer for Sedrick Courtney

Posted: July 4, 2013 9:00 am





Tags: Oklahoma, Sedrick Courtney

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Oklahoma Exoneree Eligible for Compensation

Posted: July 24, 2013 1:15 pm





Tags: Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Innocence Project Takes on First Case

Posted: July 31, 2013 4:15 pm





Tags: Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Murder Case Gets a Second Look

Posted: March 4, 2014 2:15 pm





Tags: Oklahoma

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The Effect of Oklahoma's Botched Execution on the Death Penalty Debate

Posted: April 30, 2014 5:40 pm





Tags: Oklahoma, Death Penalty

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Oklahoma Woman Exonerated of Infant Son's Death Based on DNA and Other Evidence

Posted: September 15, 2014 3:30 pm





Tags: Oklahoma

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The Oklahoman Praises Innocence Project Efforts

Posted: September 17, 2014 5:15 pm





Tags: Oklahoma

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